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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Foodies on Foot in Stillwater

Foodies on Foot in Stillwater

Host to an 1848 territorial convention leading to Minnesota's eventual statehood, Stillwater often is referred to as our birthplace. Add scenic bluffs, festivals, and charming waterside shopping, and there are many reasons to visit—but just one that brought my twin sister and I to town to celebrate our own birth thiry years ago: a culinary walking tour. 

Mother-daughter team Nancy and Liz McNulty launched Foodies on Foot not too long ago, but the combo is so natural and enjoyable, it's sure to equal long-term success. Fifty dollars (plus $15 if you want adult beverage pairings—and you really, really do) means a leisurely afternoon exploring a few (because there are so many) highlights of Minnesota's historic town and the variety of high-caliber restaurants it has to offer. 

I almost don't want to share what was served and where, because the surprise was half the fun. But here goes:

Water Street

Stop #1 - Water Street Inn
Spinach and pear salad served with Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc or Leinenkugels Fireside Nut Brown Ale

A quick tour through the historic hotel showed grand finishings, a handpainted ceiling, master suite with gorgeous view, and Charlie's Irish Pub, which I must come back to for live music!


Stop #2 - Smalley's Caribbean Barbeque
Pimento wood-smoked pork shoulder and jerk sausage taco, plus grilled pepper & sea salt, served with a citrus cocktail or Lagunitas  "Where's Waldo" double IPA

My favorite stop of the day sucked me in with sweet & spicy smells before we made it to the door. (Though we did linger at the autographed Diners & Drive-ins posterwatch May 7!) Killer hot peppers plus barbecue and mixology at its best got us warm and ready to dash back into the rain.


Stop #3 - Stillwater Olive Oil Co.
Numerous sampling, available for purchase

I'm not a balsamic connoisseur, but I may become one now. Black cherry, espresso, tangerineit was suprising how perfect and potent each of the balsamic vinegars were, illustrating the labeled flavors. Little cups let us sample as many as we'd like, dipping in bread or sipping straight. Though full bottles are available, 4 oz. or sample packs seem like a brilliant gift idea for any foodie.


Stop #4 - The Green Room
Halibut alongside gruyere risotto served with red wine or local brew selections

Once the First National Bank of Minnesota, the space is now home to a florescent green sign hanging over the bar, a more upscale dining space, and delicious food based on the creamy, peppery, return-worthy risotto that got this fish-adverse girl to eat a healthy portion of halibut.


Chicago Dog with beer

Stop #5 - Staples Mill Brewing Co.
Chicago Dog served with two beer samples

We walked just a few more blocks to find a tiny craft brewery tucked along the river like many of Stillwater's hidden gems. Though the Chicago Dogs next door were a bit odd to highlight as "local eats," the casual stop was welcome, and I heard no complaints as we all gobbled down our half serving!


dessert wine

Stop #6 - Northern Vineyards
Ruby Minnesota dessert wine and Bread Art Chocolate Rasberry Truffle cake

A quick trip through the front door and up the back steps led us to an upstairs room with wine barrels and special seating. Our final stop after multiple "cheers to 30" was topped off with 16% rich dessert wine and a round of "Happy Birthday" with a decadent cake and candles! So thoughtful of our tour guides.



Ultimately tour stops can change, with different restaurant partners and varying dishes and drinks served, but you're bound to be pleased with what you get. I could have continued on four more hours! (Alcohol consumption levels aside, of course.) The "Savor the Flavors of Stillwater" savory tours like ours are offered Tuesdays and Fridays at 11 a.m., and Saturdays at 1:30 p.m. There's also the Saturday morning "Bloody Mary Brunch" for $50, which sounds equally tempting.

Our tour proved that they happen rain or shine (though walking is truly minimal and umbrellas are provided if needed), but it doesn't put too much of a damper on anything. Twelve guests is their max per tour, to make it an intimate experience, so organize a group and reserve your spot online as soon as interested.

In the end, it's truly great that a day in Minnesota's oldest town, on the weekend I got older, made me feel utterly young and carefree. And full.

Posted on Tuesday, April 24, 2012 in Permalink

Comments may be edited for length, clarity, or appropriateness.

Apr 25, 2012 07:56 am
 Posted by  AFG

Excellent post! The fact that a picky eater like me would eat (and drink) nearly all those things, says something about this foodie tour. And $65 is one GREAT deal for all that food and drink! You can barely get dinner for two with two glasses of wine for that price these days.

It's also cool that Guy Fieri has been to MN so many times for his show. However, maybe he should change the name? I don't see Smalley's (or Pizzeria Lola, which was just featured a couple weeks ago) as a diner or a dive. Would hate for people to get the wrong impression, but good PR is good PR, I suppose. :)

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Whether you are a seasoned Twin Cities traveler or planning your first trip to Minnesota, this blog will introduce you to many new adventures to add to your itinerary. From day trips and scenic discoveries to luxurious girls weekends, travel tips, and insider scoops, our editors will give you all the information you need to enjoy your stay Up North.

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